In his essay on predestination, appearing in Grace for All, I. Howard Marshall compared divine determinism (see this post) to an author writing a script. A concept that was explored in this post using the Star Wars movies (link). At the end of the post, I asked readers, both proponents and opponents of meticulous sovereignty, if they thought Marshall’s analogy is accurate? A member of the Reformed Pub Facebook group affirmed the analogy was useful for understanding the idea, pointing me to a paper by Dr. James N. Anderson. Anderson (blog) is the Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy (link) at Reformed Theological Seminary.
The article is entitled “Calvinism and the First Sin”, (available for download until it is published) and it explains the Reformed view of divine determinism and its relationship to theodicy (why God permits evil). It also compares it to other views (Molinism, Simple Foreknowledge, and Open Theism), before advocating it as the best option. A conclusion I would not agree with.
Here is how Dr. Anderson describes divine determinism (emphasis added): Continue reading →
In Star Wars Episode III, The Revenge of the Sith, Jedi Master Mace Windu and Sith Lord Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) are engaged in battle when Anakin Skywalker enters the room. As Anakin watches on, Palpatine fires force lightning which Windu deflects with his light saber. Locked in this struggle, the Sith looks at Anakin and cries out that he must choose whom he will help.
In choosing to help Mace Windu, Anakin can reject the Dark Side and fulfill the prophecy that, as the Chosen One, he would bring balance to the Force. However, Anakin is fearful of losing Padme and wants Palpatine’s help. In helping the Sith Lord, Anakin would be completing his journey to the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader.
Despite the terms “predestination” and “election” being quite controversial today in theological circles, Jack Cottrell (blog), Professor of Theology at Cincinnati Christian University, starts off his essay reminding us that the Greek words behind these terms hold very common meanings. These words simply mean “to plan before hand” and to “choose or select”.
In the Scriptures these terms can refer to groups and/or individuals. Furthermore these terms do not always mean those who are chosen for salvation. They can also specify those who are chosen to service (see also this post).
In order to properly understand election, Cottrell rightly argues, we should first understand it as being Christ-centric.
Election primarily reflects God’s choices around establishing the Messiah. Continue reading →